Steve McNamara ready to recall Sam Burgess for 2016 Four Nations
England coach Steve McNamara is ready to welcome Sam Burgess back into the national rugby league team - but not until the 2016 Four Nations Series.
McNamara, who gave Burgess his Super League debut as a teenager with Bradford in 2006, expressed his delight over his return to the 13-man code after a brief flirtation in rugby union with Bath and England.
But McNamara has not spoken to the dual-code international since the player's return to South Sydney for 2016 was confirmed and has no intention of calling him into his current squad which is preparing for a potential series-clinching win over New Zealand in Saturday's second Test in London.
"I have no idea where he is right now or what he's doing right now," McNamara said at England's final team run at the Olympic Stadium at Friday lunchtime.
"It's a really good decision for rugby league and he'll be a welcome addition to our group going forward."
Burgess was a regular fixture in the national team after bursting onto the scene with Great Britain in their 3-0 series win over the Kiwis in 2007.
His last appearance for England was in the 2013 World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand and his availability will boost their hopes of going one better in the 2017 tournament in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
"Thankfully Sam is back in rugby league and hopefully for good," McNamara added.
"He was an integral part of our programme up to two years ago and we've missed him. There will be an opportunity to bring him back into the fold. As long as he is playing well enough and is injury-free, he'll be available for next year's Four Nations.
"But that's not for now, we've got a great squad, we're in a good place."
McNamara, who is assistant coach of Souths' arch-rivals Sydney Roosters, does not believe Burgess' apparent failure to make the grade in rugby union will prevent other league players following suit in the future.
"I don't like losing players from rugby league but our athletes are so good, our game does lend itself to players switching codes," he said.
"We produce tremendous athletes."
New Zealand head coach Stephen Kearney, assistant coach of Brisbane Broncos, welcomed Burgess' return to the NRL.
"It's wonderful to have players of Sam's quality playing our game," Kearney said during the Kiwis' final team run at London's Olympic Stadium ahead of Saturday's second Test against England.
"Unfortunately - or fortunately for rugby league - he didn't quite gel to rugby union. I don't think he was given a real opportunity.
"But it's wonderful to have him back in our game."